54 FITNESS Meet SHWETHA BHATIA, bodybuilder extraordinaire
SHWETHA BHATIA is a name to reckon with in the male dominated field of BODYBUILDING and has garnered success as a fitness trainer and entrepreneur. She speaks to Citadel of her passion and what keeps her going.
Most Indians do not take wellness and fitness seriously, but only later on realize the need to be physically fit and active. In such a scenario, someone like Shwetha Bhatia is much needed. This registered dietician is a name to reckon with in not just bodybuilding, but also as a fitness trainer and entrepreneur. Her successful clinical practice under the brand name ‘Metamorphosis’ has been helping clients with varied needs. Her impressive and impeccable track record with clients can be quite something. She helped Bollywood actor Tiger Shroff prepare for his debut film Heropanti. Her list of successes does not stop here. A competitive fitness athlete, she has won bronze medals at the state and national level Bodybuilding Championships 2015, and is a Board Member of the Goa Bodybuilding and Fitness Association, affiliated with the Indian Bodybuilders Federation (IBBF), recognised by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. What’s more, Shwetha is now a Category A (National Level) Judge by the IBBF and serves the federation as jury. Apart from being the Brand Ambassador for a fitness app ‘Mobiefit’, she has started her own fitness and nutrition centre in Panjim, Goa, under the brand name ‘Gym & Tonic’. She was in Pune to launch ‘Mind Your Fitness’, a new-age fitness and wellness start-up in the city by her.
Her journey towards her work was interesting. She was one of us when it came to fitness and health. In her own words, Shwetha states, “I was always academically inclined; being a topper at the school and university level, I never pursued good health and sports actively. It was only after graduation that I realized that I should take fitness and nutrition more seriously. The more I delved deeper into these two topics, the more I fell in love with it. I realized the power of healthy eating, exercise regime and the extent to which it can transcend your mind and body.” This awareness got her closer to fitness and exercise. She recounts, “I did not want to remain just a fitness trainer. I wanted to be someone different. My close and well-meaning friends forced me to take up bodybuilding. I trained really hard and one particular close friend forced me to fill the form for the state level Body Building Championship, after which I won the bronze medal and also won my second bronze medal for bodybuilding at the national level in the year 2015.”
The journey of becoming a bodybuilder was not easy, but fraught with a lot of challenges. Not one to give up easily, Shwetha describes her journey with a lot of confidence. “Bodybuilding needs a lot more dedication to training and nutrition than that required for maintaining general fitness, just like any other competitive sport. This obviously calls for a lot of mental conditioning. It is tough to keep the motivation levels high at all times. I had to develop a high level of mental dexterity. Your priorities are different as bodybuilder. A person can go to any extent to conquer that final frontier. According to me, a Greek god-like figure is as good as a mannequin, and it is certainly not my cup of tea. I
believe if you train to be functional, aesthetic development is bound to follow. However, it does not work the other way round. The training inside the gym should enhance the overall quality of life, which emphasizes the need for high intensity training for both strength and endurance. That’s the reason my diet and workout regime remains the same,” she states with a smile.
PREVENTION BETTER THAN CURE…
As a child, Shwetha had typical dreams of becoming a doctor, but sadly her grades did not meet up to the required expectations. Instead, she opted for a career in nutrition. Not one to accept defeat, she completed her Post Graduation in Nutrition after marriage. She puts her thoughts in carefully chosen words, “As a child, I always wanted to be a doctor and treat ailing people, but that did not happen. I thought if not curative care, at least I am proud to be a part of the preventive care industry.”
MANAGEMENT & MONITORING
Genuinely caring for terminally ill cancerm kidney and heart patients can drive any sane person out of their senses. Shwetha’s love for her profession and her patients speaks volumes about her dedication and her commitment. “It is a very complex process. These diseases need continuous monitoring of vital parameters, which can fluctuate every four-five days, depending on the severity and the stage of the disease. Patients have a reduced appetite with significant muscle loss, so it is a challenge to meet their nutritional requirements through their diet. Their prognosis becomes worse if their nutritional needs are not met. The patients themselves carry the burden of being a chronic or terminally ill patient. They also carry the guilt of being a burden both financially and emotionally on their family members. So I have to be more patient and compassionate towards them. Their family members have to be counselled from time to time, as the trauma and continuous care giving affects them too,” an emotional Shwetha states.
BIAS – NOT AN ISSUE
Despite bias, women have come out victorious in every field that they have set their foot on. But Shwetha has a different take on this. “No, not at all! I have experienced none so far. When I stepped on stage, the concept was still fairly new in India. However, today, it is far more accepted and appreciated,” she says about being a woman in a man’s field. She further adds, “The masses may have a barrier connecting with women who look muscular, but within the industry, it is largely appreciated. Again, the level to which you wish to take your muscular development is entirely your choice. I competed in the ‘Sports Physique’ category, which requires one to have muscular definition and low body fat, while still maintaining feminine aesthetics.”
ACCOLADES & RECOGNITIONS
“According to me, a Greek god like figure is as good as a mannequin and it is certainly not my cup of tea.”
Being recognized for one’ s contribution in any field is a great morale booster. Shwetha’s hard work, dedication and commitment finally paid off when she was invited as a board member and a jurist. “I am a Category A Judge in the Indian Bodybuilders Federation (IBBF) which is the only bodybuilding federation in India recognized by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. Goa Bodybuilding and Fitness Association (GBBFA) is t he state affiliate of IBBF. I am heading the women’ s wing and in charge of encouraging more women in the state to participate in the sport. It’s been a great experience, and I feel honoured to be a jury member of the same federation that I competed through. I am happy to share my experience and guide women who wish to compete,” she says with a smile.
Being passionate about fitness and good health and then starting a business came naturally to Shwetha. She has effortlessly and seamlessly blended into being a fitness entrepreneur. Her first venture has been rightfully christened by her in 2008 under the brand name ‘Metamorphosis’. After her first successful attempt, she ventured into starting a gym under the name ‘Gym & Tonic’. She supports her idea with a justified answer, “I always felt the need to have gym space, as monitoring training has been a limiting factor in my clinical practice. It had to be done remotely through videos. After winning the bodybuilding competition at the state and national Level in 2015, I felt a strong need to start a gym, and I thought Goa being my second home would be an apt place to start, as there is a lack of professional set-ups in the state.” Once she begins on her favourite topic, there is no stopping her. She continues about her passion, “It’s heartening to have touched so many lives over the last three years. I owe it to all our patrons at Gym & Tonic. They motivate me to work hard every day. We are working on our expansion plans and hopefully, by mid-July, we should be good to start. I am glad to tell you that I have also launched a novel well-being and sports performance clinic in Pune by the brand name ‘Mind Your Fitness’. The power of the mind and body is crucial for sports performance as well as wellbeing, but seldom do we find an approach that integrates the power of both. This is the need of the hour, considering the stressful lifestyle we all lead today. Mind Your Fitness precisely aims to bridge this gap, to ensure that a healthy mind lives in a healthy body.” In her words, this one-of-a-kind clinic in India brings together the best professionals in nutrition, exercise and mental health, all under the same roof. In this team, you will find eminent physiotherapists, nutritionists and psychologists dedicated in sports performance and clinical conditions. She reveals, “It is a thoroughly monitored service with weekly follow up sessions. At the outset, each client has to undergo mandatory physical, nutritional and psychometric assessments, based on which a programme customized to individual needs is planned. The service especially targets people with metabolic and lifestyle disorders like obesity and diabetes. Those into recreational and competitive sports will also be catered to. I wish to duplicate this model in Mumbai and Goa in the next three months, and thereafter in all the metros.” Additionally, she is the brand ambassador of a fitness app called ‘Mobiefit’. Talking more on her other work, she also reveals, “I also write for a number of publications, blogs and magazines on a regular basis. Recently, there have been talks with a prominent production house for a nationwide TV campaign on fitness that is yet to be finalized. My plate is definitely full and I am raring to go.”
Being an extremely busy person, Shwetha hardly gets time for herself, but manages to steal sometime for herself and her family as she is constantly shuttling between Goa, Mumbai and Pune. She puts her schedule in a concise and precise manner. “I travel every fivesix days. It’s challenging to maintain my own fitness regime amidst work and travel (I like to practice what I preach). That requires me to cut down on my social life at times and I’m okay with that. I use music, meditation, spending time with my pet and power naps as recovery tools. I end up working on Sundays too, but ensure I have two Sundays with no work scheduled. That’s when I make up for family time. I love spending time outdoors and spend my time at the beach when I can and that’s how I unwind,” she winds up enthusiastically. Indeed, inspirations like her are what keep our country moving ahead on a healthy note.